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A new LIMRA surveyTop 5 Challenges Facing Executives of more than 300 industry executives across 47 countries revealed 4 in 10 consider talent management to be their top challenge in the coming years. This is higher than results collected in LIMRA’s 2015 study, where just 34 percent cited talent management – hiring and retaining good employees - as their top challenge. Looking only at responses from CEOs and presidents, 35 percent listed talent management as their top challenge.

The second most common challenge cited by industry executives was technology. Forty-one percent of all executives listed technology as one of the top five challenges they face in 2017. More CEOs and presidents consider this a higher priority, with nearly 6 in 10 citing technology as a concern. While technology wasn’t one of the top five concerns from LIMRA’s 2015 study, it is clear executives are more concerned with keeping up with technological processes, implementing automation and digitizing operations to remain competitive.

Although technology is a challenge, the study discovered industry leaders also think it will be a driver of future growth. LIMRA found nearly a third of executives believe artificial intelligence will be crucial to their company’s success in the next five years. Successful artificial intelligence capabilities could lead to a more hands-off approach to processing customer service tasks, resulting in lower costs. Almost a quarter of executives believe virtual communications (such as video conferencing and social networking) will continue to be an important technology. As in most industries, virtual communications is relevant to the day-to-day operations of the financial services market, and its use is anticipated to grow as consumers and customers continue to expect this service.

Facing aging sales forces and the need to increase productivity and retention, more than a quarter (26 percent) of executives are concerned with distribution, similar to 2015 results (23 percent). LIMRA also finds this to be of similar concern to CEOs and presidents where almost 3 in 10 find distribution challenging.

Concerns around regulation are more top of mind for CEOs and presidents. Forty-six percent of CEOs and presidents list regulation as a one of their greatest challenges, compared to only 25 percent of executives overall. However when specifically asked about which external forces would have the biggest impact in the next five years, regulation came out number one with 57 percent.

LIMRA found concerns around growth have dropped significantly from 2015. Only 20 percent of leaders find growth to be a top concern in 2017, compared with 32 percent in 2015. The reason for this decline could come from a more stable economy; yet LIMRA believes this will continue to be a top concern for executives in the coming years.

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